In hindsight, we’re able to look at our lives, slightly older, slightly wiser, but sometimes still making the same mistakes. Old habits, die hard. Maybe these aren’t just a few things that you wish you knew when you were sixteen, maybe you wish you’d stop doing them right now, at whatever age you are. I know I’m guilty of that too sometimes. Perhaps, all we really need is a nudge, a gentle reminder — that living in the moment, taking risks and being kind to yourself is just way more fun.
1. Cross each bridge as you get to it.
At sixteen, dar too often I spent time over-thinking things that were going to happen in the future, whether that was tomorrow or in weeks to come, turning exciting events into scary problems. By over-thinking, I began to focus on the negatives, on the ‘what could go wrong’ instead of focusing on the ‘what could go right.’ I created worries and conjured up fear, increasing the anxiety I felt before events which, more often than not, ended up being really fun. Then afterwards, I’d think to myself, ‘why did I waste so much time worrying over nothing?’ only to proceed in repeating the same mistake the following week.
If you spend too long worrying about the millions of ways you could mess up, you’ll be setting yourself up for the bigger challenge of having to climb out of a ditch you accidentally created yourself, even though the road ahead was perfectly clear. Relax, take each day as it comes, nothing will ever be as bad as what your mind is capable of imagining.
2. Do the things that scare you.
Of course, to a certain (and safe) extent. There will be moments at sixteen when your heart starts pounding and your body starts to tingle, that feeling of nervousness and excitement. Do the thing that makes you feel that way.
Send the text that makes you throw your phone onto your bed. Wear the dress that makes you feel so liberated even if you’re worried that it makes you stand out. Go to the party that you know that cute boy will be at. Go surfing even if you’ll fall off your board every time, tell your best friend you love and appreciate them even if they might not say it back, join the debate team because you know that what you’ve got to say is important.
You will never regret saying and doing the things that you wanted to because it’s impossible to regret something you once used to yearn for. Nothing will ever be as scary as waking up one day with a whole pile of ‘what if’s.
3. You’re allowed to grow.
Too often we forget that we’re young and that there are so many different things that will affect the way that we see the world and how we act.
If you’re reading this, and you just so happen to be sixteen, take a moment to realise that ten years ago, you were six.
Look how much has changed in those 10 years, look at how you’ve grown. Of course, the physical and mental changes that have taken place have been drastic. You’ve evolved from a child to a teen! But these changes will continue. You can change your mind, you can shift between emotions, you can grow apart from friends and you can learn to love something new. Don’t stand still, don’t be stuck. Allow yourself to adapt, allow yourself to question the thoughts you already have and let your life be a constant journey. “You’ve changed,” they’ll say, with bitterness in their voice, as if you’ve done something wrong. Stand tall, and say, “I have changed, I’m allowing myself to grow, no matter how terrifying that can be, and you know what, I think that’s something to be proud of.”